Update: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responds to US missile strikes on Syria - This "will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere"
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As previewed earlier tonight, the United States fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria on Friday morning in retaliation for this week's alleged chemical weapons attack against civilians by the Assad regime, U.S. officials said. It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Donald Trump's most dramatic military order since becoming president. According to NBC, only tomahawks missiles fired, no fixed wing aircraft involved, for now.
As AP notes, the surprise strike marked a striking reversal for Trump, who warned as a candidate against the U.S. getting pulled into the Syrian civil war, now in its seventh year. But the president appeared moved by the photos of children killed in the chemical attack, calling it a "disgrace to humanity" that crossed "a lot of lines."
The president did not announce the attacks in advance, though he and other national security officials ratcheted up their warnings to the Syrian government throughout the day Thursday. National Security Advisor McMaster, quoted by Reuters, said that Trump was given 3 options for retaliating and told advisors to focus on 2; he added that Trump made the decision on Thursday.
The strike early Friday morning in Syria targeted hangars, planes and fuel tanks at one Syrian military airfield, according to a U.S. official. The U.S. attacked with about 60 Raytheon Co. Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from two Navy destroyers.
59 U.S. Tomahawk missiles, fired from warships in the Mediterranean Sea, targeted an air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that American officials believe Syrian government aircraft launched with a nerve agent; hangars, planes and fuel tanks were targeted, a U.S. official sais. Two Navy destroyers launched Raytheon missiles against Syria two days after Bashar al-Assad’s regime used poison gas to kill scores of civilians
NBC adds that a high ranking administration official says foreign countries from Arab states to Canada supported tonight's strikes vs. Syria.
The decision to strike in Syria marks a stark reversal for President Trump, who during his presidential campaign faulted past U.S. leaders for getting embroiled in conflicts in the Middle East
The attack occurred while Trump was at his Florida estate after a dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where they were to discuss what to do about North Korea’s nuclear program and U.S.-China trade disagreements. Traveling to Mar-a-Lago from Washington on Thursday, Trump spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One about Assad, saying “what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. And he’s there, and I guess he’s running things. So something should happen.”
It was not immediately clear if Trump's action had been precleared with Putin in advance.
According to local reports, "32 Minutes ago about hearing Very Loud Sounds & Sky Was Lit up from Airbase He says Now Its "QUIET""
The market's reaction was immediate:
- S&P 500 FUTURES ERASE GAINS AFTER U.S. LAUNCHES SYRIA STRIKE
- TREASURY 10-YR YIELD FALLS 4BPS TO 2.31% ON US STRIKES IN SYRIA
According to the local press pool at Mar-A-Lago, Trump is speaking to reporters now about air strike in Syria. It can't be broadcast live because of technical restrictions at Mar-a-Lago.
The speech can be seen here, and here is the full transciprt:
My fellow Americans, on Tuesday Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children.
It was a slow and brutal death for so many, even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.
Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.
There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council.
Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically. As a result the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize threatening the United States and its allies.
Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. And also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.
We ask for God's wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed and we hope that as long as american stands for justice then peace and harmony will in the end prevail. Goodnight and God bless America and the entire world. Thank you.
At the same time, Syrian state TV said that "American aggression targets Syrian military targets with a number of missiles."
Rand Paul who has been vocally against any strikes, opined on twitter:
While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 7, 2017
The President needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 7, 2017
Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 7, 2017
Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said in a statement in support of the airstrike, but he stressed that “any longer-term or larger military operation in Syria by the Trump Administration will need to be done in consultation with the Congress.”
CBS further reports that two dozen members of Congress were notified by White House and Cabinet officials of the airstrike. The White House will be providing a list of these members shortly that includes people on both sides of the aisle.
Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis says in briefing to reporters that it informed Russia ahead of the missile strike. He added that the "U.S. took great precaution to avoid Russian housing."
In the statement, the Pentagon said a total of 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles targeted aircraft, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems and radars. The Pentagon stressed that “extraordinary measures” were taken to avoid civilian causalities. The Penaton confirmed that the strike targeted Shayrat Airfield in Homs.
On this point, the WaPo's Josh Rogin asks, "Russians were at that airbase but got a heads up. Still, why were they at the chemical weapons base?" Perhaps because there were no chemical weapons there?
.@barbarastarrcnn reports Russians were at that airbase but got a heads up. Still, why were they at the chemical weapons base?— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) April 7, 2017
Rex Tillerson added, however, that the US "sought no approval from Moscow." He added that Russia is either complicit or “simply incompetent” for not adhering to a 2013 commitment to secure Syria’s chemical weapons, the Associated Press reports.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called the airstrikes “appropriate and just.” At the end of the statement, Ryan said he looks “forward to the administration further engaging Congress in this effort.”
According to the press pool, Trump personally informed China's president Xi of the Syria strike.
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While we await Russia's reaction, earlier in the day Russia's deputy U.N. envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, warned on Thursday of "negative consequences" if the United States carries out military strikes on Syria.
"We have to think about negative consequences, negative consequences, and all the responsibility if military action occurred will be on shoulders of those who initiated such doubtful and tragic enterprise," Safronkov told reporters when asked about possible U.S. strikes. When asked what those negative consequences could be, he said: "Look at Iraq, look at Libya."
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For now, the attack appears to be over with ABC quoting a U.S. official after U.S. missiles fired at Syrian airbase who said: “We’re done until another decision is made.
MORE: U.S. official after U.S. missiles fired at Syrian airbase: “We’re done until another decision is made.” https://t.co/b7yCiEe6C8— ABC News (@ABC) April 7, 2017